I drove 320 miles across Illinois and Iowa today, in the quest to find the world’s largest garden gnome. If the price is right I will pick it up for a good friend of mine, who has an odd fetish for these things.
Had some interesting news on the Blog front, from Ireland. My Mother has learned how to post comments. Maree celebrated her 80th a few weeks ago and is mastering the new smart phone we gifted her. Now I cannot lie or exaggerate on my Site or I’ll hear that I’m full of Blarney. Rather, full of shit. My Mother would never say Blarney.
It was a quick in and out at the Holiday Inn Express. Fast, functional, bland & soulless. This location was beside some kind of Bass Fishing Outlet. I will avoid HIE from here on in.
Zion coffee on Adams Street, Peoria is a sunny, bright hangout in a funky industrial looking neighborhood. Very good cappuccino and they had an extremely tasty egg on avocado sourdough toast. Again, a very welcoming staff.
They also confirmed my choice of a local destination in Peoria. I went to see Vania.
Vania, the female version of the Muffler Man has her clothes removed each summer to indicate the beginning of pool season.
Authors note: I will not be taking any food photos on this journey. There will just be lots of pictures of my big head with stuff behind.
It was a glorious day for a cross state drive and again avoiding the highways, where possible, the road brought me through a lot of small towns, as I’d hoped. All this flat open country is unique for me and I had a radiant cloud free day to take it all in.
After crossing the Mississippi at Fort Madison, I came upon the Iowa State Penitentiary. On taking the drive around and above the jail, I got some beautiful broad vistas of the bridge and river. Those turnkeys sure get a lot of light in their homes.
Fort Madison is also the home of the Original Wallyburger, it would seem. It was closed today, so I missed out. Much like New Yorkers identify themselves as true New Yorkers on knowing the address of the Original Ray’s Pizza, Iowan’s take the same pride of ownership in knowing the location of The Original Wallyburger. Or “The Knowledge” as it is commonly referred to locally.
I also happened on the American Gothic House, right next door to the middle of nowhere. It looks like the old couple is hitting hard times based on the shape of their old homestead. Hubby Hank probably had to hock his pitchfork.
Eight hours rambling later, and here I am in Ames, Iowa at the Gateway Hotel.
On an excellent recommendation from Sarah O‘Leary at reception I went to dinner at Wallaby’s. It’s Not Australian, despite the name. The Fish and Chips tasted very good, though I was hungry enough to eat the hind leg of the lamb of Christ after all the travelling.
The staff at Wallaby’s gave me a huge warm Ohio welcome. The three upstairs are hardworking Iowa State Students. Dalton is studying Business; Bree – Studio Arts and Emma – Event Planning. They really all made for a fun evening, at the end of a very long driving day.
Chris the manager and an 8 year Army veteran, was kind enough to take the photo with his much better camera than mine.
The random song that came on at the exactly the right time today on the road: “I Ran” – Flock of Seagulls. The ultimate 80’s song and haircuts.
Tomorrow I will hunt the gnome.
The Price Tag:
Hotel: $105 with a few dollars off on Hotels Tonight